Let them Cook!

20160302_144911Cooking with kids is so annoying. It takes a lot of energy for set up, during, and most of all clean up. Why even bother? They never eat what I make anyways, so why involve them in the process? These are all valid feelings and questions but I am going to try and convince you to join me in letting your children be your sous chefs. Give your son that knife and let your daughter crack those eggs. Here is why I believe all the pain is well worth it.

My children are 3 and 2. They are a handful. They become even more whinney and needy during the hours of 4-7pm. How am I supposed to make dinner with two monkeys crying and hitting eachother at my feet. My first responce has always been, TV!! That wonderful thing that distracts them and keeps them away from my body while I make family and myself my only (hopefully) hot meal of the day. We do not watch TV often. So, it is a treat. It worked wonderfully. Then as soon as dinner was ready it was off and they were at the dinner table ready to eat.

How can someone be soooo hungry and yet not eat what is right in front of them? “I want Cheeeerrrrriiiiiooooooooooossssss!!!!!” came the scream from my daughters mouth! “I will just eat the meat, mom.” Says my son. The fine print of this statement is that he will eat the meat as long as it is not too chewy, too salty, too hot, too spicy, and smothered in ketchup. But not too much ketchup.

Arghhhh. This was our dinner time. Every day. Same old whining and same old anger coming from both my husband and I. I dreaded dinner. I just wanted to feed my children kraft dinner (no ketchup!) and send them to bed so my husband and I could eat our amazing dinner in peace.

I decided to try something. We needed a new plan.

For the past 3 weeks I have been getting both my children to help make dinner. They get a stool and a dinner knife and I involve them in all the sauce making, veggie cutting and table setting parts of making dinner. Then when the meal is finished cooking it is their job to help me plate all the meals and bring them to the table. We call it “Fancy Feast” Then we all sit down and by the end of the meal everyones plate is clean and the ketchup has not made its appearance even once.

 

It has really been as simple as that.

They are now apart of making the food they get to eat. My husband comes home and “oohs and ahhhs” over how amazing everything looks and their smiles couldn’t be any bigger.

I know I am not the first person to think this up. I am also not the only mom who does this. But maybe, just maybe, some one out there has found themselves in the same boat as I was and just needs a boost of encouragement or a fresh idea of how to solve this dilemma.

We do have a few rules that we use in the kitchen that have helped me control the chaos that cooking with kids brings.

1. calm bodies (I actually put on classical music. I use Songza “Mellow Cello”)

2. Knives stay on the cutting board! (They each get their own cutting board and dinner knife to cut with and a little bowl to put the stuff they are finished cutting in it.)

3. Sample as much veggies as you want. (this week their favorite has been Yellow Peppers and Raw Broccoli)

4. Only mommy touches the stove. (They have a special spot they stand in when I open and close the oven. They stay in it until I say “Where are my chefs?”)

5. pick up whatever you drop on the floor and put it in the “Garbage Bowl” (I keep a big baking bowl on the counter for garbage)

Thats it.

It is actually fun. I have been really enjoying it. It has allowed me to talk with them about the importance of what kind of food we put in our body. I have had so many awesome conversations with my son about how are bodies are like Cars and we need to put the right fuel in them to make them work best. (he is such a boy) These conversations have lead to how our body works and what it means when we get sick and what it means when we are tired. It is pretty fun watching his little brain process this all as he munches away on a carrot stick. I also do not care what they eat at dinner now. It is a lot stressful. I know that they are eating a ton of veggies during prep time and that any they actually eat at dinner are just a bonus.

My children take such pride in all they do. Whether it is a picture they have drawn or a new dance move they just made up. Why not let them take pride in what they eat?

I still deal with the begging for cheerios but now I am never tempted to give in. I know she is not hungry. She just loves cheerios. Telling her Cheerios are for when she wakes up in the morning is starting to make a little more sense to her. Dinner is when she cooks.

It is not a perfect system. But it is working great so far. Next week it will all explode in my face and I will be writing a retraction on this same subject!

Good luck figuring out those kiddos of yours. Please share your ideas. What has worked? What has flopped? Looking forward to some of your ideas.

-Lion

p.s We also give our children the same knives and forks we use at dinner. They both cut up their own food! it is amazing! also a lot more relaxing for us and I enjoy my hot meal for once in my life!

Expanding my Weird Village

People are weird.

This is my conclusion after being an avid “people watcher/observer” since a young age.  Lately I have been dwelling on the fact that us, as humans have this fear/anxiety over meeting other humans, Yet, we long for human interactions and relationships.

When my husband and I moved away to Ontario so he could attend Law school, I spent a lot of long hours crying because of my friends and family I was leaving behind. Moving to a new area where we knew no one and had no ties was quite hard. I prayed for many nights that I would find a friend. One friend. Any body. I think at one point I considered getting a cat. I just wanted someone to share a laugh with and a coffee with and just be normal. No fakeness.

I spent the beginning of my time in Ontario just exploring the city of Windsor, where we called our home, and trying to figure out the new names for grocery stores and which tim hortons was the best. (the answer is A&P and all tim hortons are equal in windsor but they only accept cash or credit. Do not even try to bring a debit card).

I met people from my husbands Law class and a few of them were married so I also met their wives/husbands. I found a job and was immediately flung into a room with like minded people. But what did I have in common with these people? was work and the fact that our spouses were in law school the only things we were connected by?

This is the scary part of making new friends. Opening up. Letting people in. Being vulnerable.  How much do you expose in order to gain their trust but not freak them out. Are my friends at home actually just my pitty friends and I am a complete weirdo? I have often heard it said that ‘Every group has a Weird friend, If you don’t know who that friend is, then it must be you.’

Fact: I am weird.

When I think about my time in Windsor, it is not the town or landscape or restaurants or grocery stores that first come to mind. It is not how hot the air was in the summer or how dry the air was in the winter. It is not how lonely I was. Its the people. I made 3 amazing super close friends who I love with my whole heart. I would move mountains for them. They will forever be in my prayers and always have a place in our home if they ever smarten up decide to come to the best province in Canada/best place in the world.

If people are so important to our existence and happiness. Then why are we so intimidated to meet someone new?

It always makes me smile when I see a dog walk past another dog and a toddler within 50 feet of another toddler. It is like in both situations they are long lost friends and havent seen eachother in years. I love using my toddler as an ice breaker to meet other moms. My two year old is better at it than my 3 year old. You instantly have something to talk about and as your mommy eyes meet you know. You know that you have found a kindred spirit. That woman just doesn’t have one thing in common with you. She has 500 things. And they all revolve around that child grasping at her skirt poking your child who is pulling your arm off just to be closer to their long lost friend.

I have had a few friends move over seas in the past. When they come home for a visit or permanently they have so many stories to tell. They share about funny cultural mishaps or amazing views or adventures, but they also spend the majority of their time talking about the people they met, the friends they made.

People are a huge factor in how we experience things. If you had dinner at a restaurant and the food was good but the service was horrible. Dinner was horrible. If you had dinner at a restaurant and the food was horrible but the service was amazing and you came out with a new friend to add to your christmas card list, then of course dinner was amazing.

See? People are Weird.

We love having friends but hate making them. Why do we have to be so awkward? What am I going to do when my toddlers are gone and I want to make a new friend? Borrow someone else’s toddler? oh maybe then I can get a dog! aaaaahhhhh so that is why people get dogs! It is all making sense to me.

So where am I going with this, you may wonder?

I have been challenged lately with extending my “Village”. Its a word I use often as I describe the group of family and friends I have to call upon when I need help or visa versa. They do not have to live close or be related or have a long relationship with me. They are “My people”, as Meredith and Cristina would say on Greys Anatomy. We support each other and love each other and fill in for each other in the areas we are weak in.

The way that I have been challenged is in opening up my heart and home to new friends. Sometimes I believe that people can hide behind the term “Village” when they really should be calling it an “exclusive group”.  Some people can only handle a few people in their Village. I know I can handle a lot. So who are these People who I would be looking for? The answer is “I do not know”.

All I know is that I will be making more eye contact with people and saying more than just “Good morning” as I pass someone by. Making human contact with someone and being mindful that everyone has a story. Knowing that not everyone has a village they are apart of. Some people are new to the area. Some people are refugees. Some people need a friend. Maybe It is not me who needs that person in my village, but it is that person who needs me in theirs.

How can you be used by God to touch lives and comfort those who need it if you are not willing to leave your own driveway? or make eye contact with someone walking past you in the grocery store or on the side walk?

This is what I have been challenged with lately. Stepping out and being aware of the humans around me. Living the opposite of how most of us did in High School. I am turning 30 next month, its about time I acted like it.

I am praying that by setting a good example in this area it will set my children up for success at a younger age than I started. I hope it doesn’t take my daughter 28 years to figure this out.

Anyways, These are my thoughts late on a saturday night. The Canucks lost and I sent my sulking husband to bed so I could write this all down. So if you see some strange lady making eye contact with you and then probing into your personal life story instead of just polity walking by and settling for the mundane “Good morning.” Its probably me. or maybe its that crazy lady who lives down the street. Or maybe that IS me!

-Lion

Balancing Chaos

Before I start. I have no idea what I am doing. I literally make it up one day at a time. most of the time I am making it up one minute at a time. My life can become so Chaotic it is hilarious. One time I actually stopped in the middle of my “life storm” and started laughing. Children crying, noses running, smoke alarm going off because of dinner in the oven, laundry so high it fell and buried my daughter, and there I was, Laughing.

Imagine if we could freeze time? oh the things I would do.

1. take a nap

2. take another nap

3. take a bath

4. tackle my laundry, dishes, floors, spare bedroom that holds all our families extras of everything.

Anyways, that is not what I wanted to post about today. Welcome to my brain. It likes to “Bunny Hop” around from topic to topic. This could be a huge reason why I enjoy toddlers so much.

The Point that I am trying to make is that as a mom with a million toddlers in my house daily, my life is Chaotic. How am I balancing everything? I actually got asked this question 3 times this week. Its only Wednesday. I blame Instagram. I do post a lot of pictures of our happy family enjoying the outdoors and having the time of our lives, then I post a picture of me at the gym or out with friends. This can seem as though I have a personal chef and/or cleaning lady. But I do not. To be honest I am snapping those pictures while cutting up veggies for dinner or sprinting from cleaning up pee on the floor to catch my son playing soccer in the backyard under the gorgeous sun. I am not showing the whole truth. I am deceiving you.

My life is actually quite boring. Each day is normally filled with doing the same old boring things day after day. Cooking, Cleaning, Wiping noses, making beds (what an annoying chore and for some reason very important chore) and trying to find 10 minutes alone. I do my best to find balance throughout all the craziness. “All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy”. or somthing like that.

I found myself  in quite a slump when my daughter had just turned 1. I had a 1 and a 2 year old and I was running an in home daycare and I was feeling as though I would be taking care of children and never socializing with other adults ever again. I hadn’t done my own thing in a very long time. I was putting everyone else’s needs above my own but yet never meeting my needs in the end. I was drained. I needed an outlet. So my husband and I sat down and figured out a plan.

Monday – Clean the house up after our crazy weekend plans. As a reward I get to miss bedtime and go play volleyball at the community Rec centre with my Best friend!

Tuesday – Laundry. load after load after load. I also get to go out this night. First i Hit the gym then I plan a coffee date.

Wednesday  – Play date day. Have a friend over and socialize. The evening is our sons Activity time. Right now he is on a soccer team. Kids go to bed and it is “At home Date night.” We make a nice meal together and reconnect. Maybe a little “Wink wink” if we don’t fall asleep on the couch from exhaustion. (is that too much information? my hubby is going to kill me. I am all about being open and honest, he knows that, I think I am safe.)

Thursday – I wake up early and work out with a friend. Then its another Play date day. This is his night to go play Hockey. I stay at home and normally fold all that laundry i did on tuesday and put it away while watching a netflix chick flick;)

Friday – During the day I prepare for whatever adventure is planned for Saturday. This is also Either an in home date night or a baby sitter date night and then my sweet hubby will play Hockey late after.

Saturday – We go on an adventure or we are camping this day. No matter what. Rain, Shine, Snow, or hail. We pack up the kids and go and do something adventurous outside. Our children wear muddy buddies and my hubby and I have all the appropriate gear. We normally get home late and put the kids to bed then clean up then collapse and go to bed.

Sunday – Church in the morning and then most sundays seem to be filled with birthday parties or family dinners. Before we go to bed that day we clean the living area and the kitchen.

That is my life. You may notice there isn’t actually a lot of time to clean. its true. My house is a mess. Clothes and dishes get washed. Lots of home cooked meals get made. But I am not going to even try and tell you how often our floors get washed or bathrooms get cleaned. They get cleaned. Just maybe not as often as yours:)

Having Adventures as a family is really important to us. We have made it a priority to spend quality time with our children out in nature. We want them to experience new things and we also want to spend time with them. That quote that says “listen

(I found this quote on a blog that I frequently read and Love called http://www.yourmodernfamily.com/ Check her out for sooooo many helpful parenting tips)

I firmly believe that if we spend quality time with them and listen to what they have to say, we are investing in our future relationship with them.

I will clean my house when my children are in School. For now, I will prioritize my children, marriage, health and sanity. Not exactly in that order;) Something has to eventually give. Something is going to break down. I would rather have it be my house then any of those four things previously mentioned.

Balancing Chaos has broken down into figuring out our priorities. When we figure out what matters most to us as parents that is when the real decisions become easy to make.

Good luck! its hard. But once you start to find some balance it becomes so much easier. Life is better when you are happy. Life is better when your family is happy. Let it go, But whatever you do, do not stop making your bed!

I would love to hear how you mommies cope with balancing our crazy schedules and family needs. What is your outlet? What is your game plan?

-Lion

1 year anniversary

My sister and I have been keeping this Blog for 1 year now. WordPress sent us a “badge!” it was a beautiful ceremony. I cried. (I typed sarcastically, if that wasn’t made obvious)

So what has a year of Blogging been like? I probably saved a bunch on Therapy because of this beautiful outlet. I was able to put down some bottled up emotions into words and actually work some stuff out. I felt held accountable to what I wrote in my posts. Some days when I do not feel like working out I remember the post I wrote about living healthier. When I look in the mirror and try and decide which outfit I am going to wear that best hides my millions of rolls, I slap myself and remember that I am choosing to live a life where I am good enough just the way I am. I am going to live how I want my children to live. When I am feeling alone I remember the post I wrote about my amazing friends.

Yup this blog has been good for me. So thank you for reading our posts and leaving your amazing comments that make us both feel as if we are not alone and we are not the only ones going through these same issues.

Love Lion!

what I would LOVE to share to some parents, but I am not feeling bold

this is something I wrote this morning, and based on some of the conversations i have been having with some of my youth, I WOULD LOVE TO send this to parents.  I am not sure yet if i am ready for an angry mob, or for the sad reality that some of the parents might not even read it.

Some questions to ask your teens

When they are leaving the house, and acting like they don’t want to share details. Here are some of the questions you can ask your teen.

  1. Where are you going? Seems pretty normal question, but most of the time if you teenager is doing something they don’t want you to know they will say a short answer, like “out” or to a friend’s house, they will be vague, short. Most likely with this answer comes a lie they are trying to keep from you (not all the time, but most of the time). OR if they answer in a too good to be true answer, it most likely is too good to be true.
  2. What will you be doing? Hanging out, isn’t really a safe word anymore for most teens. “Hanging out” usually leads to being bored, which depending on the friend group, leads to doing something pretty dumb. Based on some of my experience and what I have heard. Most youth that “hang out” end up doing something that they shouldn’t be doing, playing drinking games, drugs, something to help pass time and for time to seem more exciting.
  3. Who is all going to be there? With this question, there should be follow up ones, such as can I have a friend’s name and phone number in case you don’t answer yours? Can I have a list of friend’s names please and maybe a parent’s number? How do you know these people? Can I have the address of where you will be going? I totally understand the want to trust your teenager with a simple “I am going out; I will call if I am not home for dinner”. It’s easy, but your teenager is really not ready to have that kind of responsibility and to do responsible things. They see the lenience as a way to do what they want to do without having to answer to you. Less is not best in this situation.
  4. Party Situation: what address? Name of parents and phone numbers? And how will you be getting to and from this party? You might feel like a prying parent, but believe me, THESE ARE VITAL QUESTIONS! And you have every right as a parent to be asking these. Parties in high school are not pin the tail on the donkey and have fun themed games. Most parties (despite what school your teenager attends) is a drinking, potentially drug party. Even if the group is less than 15 people. AND, some parents are more than okay with getting alcohol for their teenagers, and letting them have a “safe” time.

High school is a time where we as youth test boundaries, experiment, and potentially make harmful decisions. It’s a vulnerable, peer pressuring time. Your teenager you might think would never make this dumb of a decision, and yes, some of them wont, but do you really want to trust them so much to the point where it’s too late, they are addicted, they can only have fun if there is drinking or they have gone “all the way” with someone they just met?

-Owl